Ten Ways To Cut Food Costs

Smart shopping strategies can cut food cost to a minimum while still providing a nutritious and varied diet.

Food costs can be a drain on any budget. Careful planning strategies, however, can make this necessary expenditure less expensive. Here are ten ways to significantly reduce food costs and get more out of a grocery budget.

(1) Planning menus for a week in advance will help to save money by giving an exact picture of what items are needed. This list of items can be compared against weekly grocery circulars for the best buys on food items. Center menu ideas around items that are on special for the week.

(2) Cut food waste. Buying food in volume only to have to throw out part of it saves no money. Consider investing in a freezer to store food until it is needed. When storing food in a freezer, divide into individual servings. This will save when having to prepare a meal for only a few family members or one person. Also invest in proper storage containers for foods to cut waste when buying in large quantities.

(3) Always take a list when shopping for groceries. Impulse buying can destroy a budget. Post a list where other family members can add items as they are needed. This will eliminate running out of items. If frequently-used items are on sale and can be stored easily, consider buying several at the low price. This way the item will likely last until it is on special again.

(4) Never assume that an item is a great buy just because it is listed in a weekly circular. Many advertised prices have actually been increased and mixed-in with lower priced items. Comparison shop to make sure.

(5) Use coupons. These little pieces of paper are real money and can significantly reduce the total cost of groceries by 50% or more. Learn to collect and organize coupons so that they can be matched to on-sale items for even more savings. Coupon shopping allows families to buy more expensive and better quality items at a lower price than generics.

(6) If possible, shop without children in tow and at hours when stores are not crowded. This helps to eliminate rushed shopping and possible impulse buying. Never shop when hungry for the same reasons.

(7) If you find a great buy on some item in bulk but find that it is more than you can use or store, consider joining with a friend to make the purchase. You will still get the bargain price without the waste.

(8) Forget about store loyalty. Shop where you can find the best bargains for what you need. Traveling a little further or to more than one store will not deplete your food savings. No store runs everything on sale at one time. When Store A runs a special on meat, Store B might be running a sale on canned foods or some other items. Making all purchases at one store could cost you more than you think.

(9) Keep purchases of packaged foods like tv dinners and frozen pizza at a minimum. It takes more time to prepare foods yourself but it is healthier and more economical. Use more fresh fruits and vegetables in daily menus. Try using fruit drinks and fresh juices more often as an alternative to soft drinks. Over time, this will save a great many budget dollars.

(10) Be sure to check your cash register receipt before leaving the store or on the parking lot. Cashiers often make honest mistakes that can cost you money. If you find that you have been overcharged for an item, you are more likely to return for a refund (and more likely to receive it) if you are still at the store or closeby.

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